Penske Automotive Group, owned by racecar legend Roger Penske, will buy GM's castoff brand.
By David Goldman and Peter Valdes-Dapena,
CNNMoney.com staff writers - Last Updated: June 5, 2009: 3:54 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Bankrupt automaker General Motors Corp. announced Friday that it will sell its Saturn unit to car dealership operator Penske Automotive Group.
Penske (PAG, Fortune 500) is owned by former race car driver Roger Penske, who owns NASCAR and IndyCar racing teams.
The deal gives Penske the rights to the 19-year old brand including its five different models. GM would continue production of only the three highest-selling models: the Aura sedan, and the Vue and Outlook cross-over SUVs, for the next two years. The Saturn Sky and Astra models will be discontinued.
Penske, which has no Saturn dealerships in its network, will act only as a distributor for Saturn cars and parts to the brand's dealer network. Like almost all car dealerships in the U.S., Saturn dealerships are independently owned businesses.
Penske has no plans to open any Saturn dealerships, said Anthony Pordon, senior vice president at Penske Automotive.
The arrangement is similar to the deal under which Penske distributes Daimler AG's tiny Smart car in the United States. Penske does operate a small number of its own Smart dealerships, however, in addition to handling wholesale deliveries of the car to other dealerships.
The deal, which GM expects to be completed in October, would save more than 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its roughly 350 dealers nationwide. All of Saturn's dealerships sell only Saturn vehicles, so they are reliant on the brand's continuation for their survival.